From the “department of keeping the world safe for Italian wine”…
Above: I tasted with winemaker Aldo Vacca at Produttori del Barbaresco in March 2010. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am one of the wineries hugest fans.
Reader Ken wrote me a private message recently, asking if I’d seen an email blast from a New York retailer in which the author claimed that there had been two bottlings of Produttori del Barbaresco classic Barbaresco 2006 — one made before the decision not to bottles the 06 crus (and thus not including the single-vineyard juice) and one made after the decision not to bottle the 06 crus (and thus containing the higher-quality single-vineyard juice).
“If there has, in fact, been a second release that now has included the single-vineyard grapes,” he asked plaintively, “how on earth can anyone distinguish the bottles?
“I’ve cut and pasted a recent e-mail from [a highly respected New York retailer] and highlighted the statement about a second release. I’ve collected a ton of the blended 05’s for cellaring and have only a couple of the blended 06s, which got initially reviewed (by fellow Cellar Trackers) as a ‘drink early.'”
The news, if you haven’t heard it: for the 2006 vintage the Produttori have decided not to bottle any of their single-vineyard Barbaresco Riservas. Aldo Vacca, manager of the Produttori, describes this [SEE THIS POST] as a business decision that was not based on the very high quality of the wines, but instead because there have been so many strong vintages in a row (basically 2004-2009) that they were concerned that there would be too much wine on the market. The wines were vinified and aged separately as per their normal practice; following an initial release of the 2006 Barbaresco (which was a terrific bottle at the time), all of the Riservas have now been blended together to produce just one wine.
Yesterday afternoon I wrote to Aldo, who promptly responded with the following message:
What happened is that we took the final decision not to produce the 2006 S[ingle]V[ineyard] one year later than usual, in the spring of 2009. At that point the first bottling of 2006 was already done so no SV in the first bottling. However this is the bottling that we release every year in Italy in the early Fall, so it is largely used for domestic market.
Second bottling was done in July and then a third bottling in the Fall. These two bottlings were a blend of SV juice and standard Barbaresco juice in very similar %. The wine you can buy in the States now is from the 2nd bottling and later this year will be from the 3rd, so very similar indeed.
So the bottom line is that there was indeed two bottlings, one without the crus and one with the crus (the former sold in Italy, the latter available in the U.S.). But if you’re buying the wine in the U.S., you’re getting wines that include the crus.
To this I would add that 2006 is not a forgettable vintage, as some of Ken’s Cellar Tracker buddies might insist. In fact, it was a good-to-great vintage (05 very-good-to-great, 07 FANTASTIC). IMHO 06 is best to drink 2011-2016 and beyond (but keep in mind that I’m a believer that these wines are to be drunk younger than most American fetishizers of old wine would tell you).